Queensland coach Kevin Walters is confident Nate Myles has not played his last State of Origin game after the veteran prop succumbed to a knee injury.
Walters kept the door open for Myles to return as early as game three in July but admitted he was unsure of the extent of the 30-year-old prop’s injury which may require surgery.
Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman was on Monday drafted into the 17 for Myles for next week’s Origin II in Brisbane in the only change to the side that claimed the series opener 6-4 in Sydney.
Myles broke down in Manly’s NRL loss to Penrith on Sunday and will visit a surgeon in Sydney on Tuesday.
“Once he gets his knee right he certainly can (return),” Walters said of an Origin return for Myles.
“We reward those who have worn the jersey well in the past.
“That’s certainly the case with Nate.
“He deserves every opportunity if he gets his knee right.”
Walters said Myles wanted to enter the camp and prove his fitness for game two before being denied by Maroons team doctor Matt Hislop.
“He (Hislop) saw the scans in conjunction with the Manly medical staff and he (Myles) wasn’t going to be any chance at all,” Walters said.
“We are hopeful when he visits the surgeon in Sydney tomorrow we find out the extent.
“But we are hopeful we can get him back for game three.”
Walters admitted he was unsure how to fill the void created by 30 Origin game veteran Myles in game two.
Lillyman, Josh McGuire and Josh Papalii are in the mix to start in the front row.
“The thing about Nate is that the players love playing alongside him, they get a lot of comfort when he is in the side,” Walters said.
“It does leave a void.
“He has played 30 Origins and a lot of them have been winning Origins.
“We need someone to pick up the slack, pick up what Nate brings to the team.”
Lillyman earns his 12th cap for Queensland.
“I don’t think I have seen him play a bad game for Queensland. He’s got big shoes to fill but he is more than capable,” Walters said.
McGuire admitted Myles would be missed.
“He’s one of the greatest Queensland forwards of all time,” he said.
“Personally in camp I am in awe of him.
“I would love the opportunity to start but I was nervous seeing if I was going to get picked again for this game.”
The Maroons are also sweating on the fitness of North Queensland’s Michael Morgan, Justin O’Neill, Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, who face Cronulla on Monday night.
The Queensland team will enjoy a fan day at Gladstone on Tuesday before entering their Gold Coast camp.
Queensland: Darius Boyd, Dane Gagai, Greg Inglis, Justin O’Neill, Corey Oates, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Jacob Lillyman, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Josh Papalii, Aidan Guerra, Josh McGuire.